DOCTOR WHO [Season 11 Premiere]: What?! Where?! WHO!
As a long time Whovian, I was ecstatic to hear that Jodie Whittaker was our new Doctor. Honestly, I had never seen her in anything, but the idea of finally getting a female Doctor was simply incredible to me. We already had a female Master with Missy (whom everyone adored), so why shouldn’t we give a female Doctor a try? Here, we finally get her…
All that being said, this episode had a completely different feel from any other Doctor Who episode I have ever seen. This is both a good and a bad thing at times, but we’ll get to that. Let’s do a little synopsis first. This is your typical “New Doctor/New Companions,” episode. We are introduced to Ryan (Tosin Cole), Yaz (Mandeep Gil), Grace (Sharon D. Clark) and Graham (Bradley Walsh) really early in the episode. Ryan is learning how to ride a bike with his grandmother, Grace, and her second husband, Graham, when Ryan stumbles upon an alien situation. This sets up the entire rest of the show.
We are, also, introduced very quickly to the dynamic of uneasiness between Ryan and Graham, which I assume is going to play a big part of character growth as the season continues on. Things move onto my favorite scene in the episode.
Enter Jodie Whittaker, via falling through a train roof, into the middle of an alien “attack” on Grace and Graham. This scene is perfect for setting up the quick witted, slightly confused, ever curious personality that Whittaker is going to portray. Without hesitation, she commands the scene and everyone in it with almost a dance-like quality, but also quite awkwardly. She was brilliant! She carried the humor and also the intensity of the scene amazingly.
I would have to say, as well, that the close quarters of a train car with a giant, electrified, tentacle monster, made for a great claustrophobic feel. My favorite part is at the end of a very long rant the Doctor is rattling off to Yaz, she turns away, turns back, and says, “And I’m calling you Yaz, now because we’re friends.” This is followed with determined face, and she just walks away.
While I loved many things about this episode — Whittaker in particular — it’s time to talk about the aspects that didn’t quite work as well as they should have. Honestly, this felt more like a Torchwood-via-Starz episode than a Doctor Who episode; it felt too polished while trying to feel gritty. The camera angles, the lighting, and the writing felt very NOT-Doctor-Who. On top of this, most of the new characters had no fleshing out to them, they were very two-dimensional.
The only thing that gave Ryan a little bit of something extra is his dyspraxia, which they made sure was mentioned about thirty times in the episode. Near the end of the episode, something occurs that gave the impression that the writers were trying to force us to have emotions for the new companions. It didn’t work; the insincerity of the forced emotion did nothing to endear us to this new cast. Of all the new characters, the Doctor, is the best one. This is something they are going to seriously need to work on as the show moves on.
Overall, this episode is very enjoyable; it moved along at a good pace; Jodie Whittaker did a great job stepping into one of the most criticized roles on television, and the ending set up a great cliffhanger that I really want to see out. As with all new Doctors and stories, we have to look past our biases and let the story play out. 3.5/5 Sonic Screwdrivers.